A University of Edinburgh project
When speech becomes impaired people may come to rely on “Augmentative and Alternative Communication” (AAC) to get their message across. AAC can range from using simple strategies such as gestures, through to voice output communication aids (VOCA) that generate synthetic speech from text or symbols inputted on a keyboard or via an eye-tracking system.
However, many people complain that the synthetic voices pre-installed in these devices can’t reflect their identity. People often have to choose from a limited selection of voices, of which only a couple might be from the same country as them, let alone representative of their own regional accent.
It may have never previously occurred to you, but our voices are as unique as our walk, our eyes and even our fingerprints. A person’s voice is an essential component of his or her identity.
The ultimate ambition of this research project is for people to be able to use communication aids that speak for them in their own voice. This multidisciplinary project is a team effort, with clinical researchers from the Euan MacDonald Centre for Motor Neurone Disease Research working with speech scientists at the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Speech Technology Research.
Get in touch
We are now gathering volunteer healthy donor voices with a range of regional accents (currently restricted to Scotland and pilot areas in England). This is to build up our bank of voices, which are then merged and edited digitally.
We need adult voices of all ages.
To be eligible you must be a native speaker of English and not have any reading or speech difficulties.
Data Protection Act
All information is held by the University and will be treated confidentially and with sensitivity. Your details will be used for the purposes of the Voicebank project only. Under the terms of the 1998 Data Protection Act you have the right to object to the use of your details for any purpose at any time. If you wish to change your details or how we contact you, or wish to request a copy of the information we hold about you, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, call us on (0131) 465 9500 or write to us at Voicebank Project, University of Edinburgh, Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic, Chancellor's Building, 49 Little France Crescent, Edinburgh EH16 4SB.